Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Schwinn Coffee - 17 months report

As I mentioned in my previous post, my Coffee looked pretty ugly after this winter season and last Saturday I decided to spend a few hours cleaning it. Since I had to disassemble at least part of the bike, I had a chance to take a closer look at some components. It's been over 17 months since I have purchased the bike. Here is the long-term usage report.

The good:
1. The geometry. The bike is comfortable. In fact, it is probably the most comfortable bike I ever had. The Coffee is stable and it is one of a few bikes I can ride hands-free (not that I normally do that).
2. Drivetrain. The simple 3-speed Shimano hub and 38T/19T ratio works quite well. It's true that on my daily route to work I would prefer more gears and I wouldn't probably buy a 3-speed bike again. These seem to be more suitable for flatter roads. However, the cheap Shimano hub works well so far and requires minimum service - something I like on a full-year bicycle.
3. Brakes. They are just adequate - not the greatest but acceptable in this price range. I find them very capable of stopping the bike even in wet weather conditions.

The bad:
1. Schwinn saddle. Very uncomfortable. The new Brooks B67 I added shortly after buying the bike is much, much better. This is not unexpected. Cheap bikes come with cheap saddles. The Brooks costs over $100 - a 1/4 of the bike price, but provides much-needed comfort.
2. Tires. They weren't that bad, actually. Worked quite well until the last January when I discovered that the rear one had a factory defect. That was the only reason I had to replace them. Poor quality control and my bad luck.

The ugly:
1. Fenders. They work, but they could work better. Coffee's fenders are shorter than on most city bikes and while they provide just enough protection, they should be longer in the next version of Coffee. Can you hear me Schwinn?
2. Rear rack. Well, what can I expect from a $15 rack? Poor quality chrome plating? Yes. "Lightweight" construction? Definitely. The rack works with light loads but I wish it was a bit stronger. Also, after this winter season the rack shows large spots of corrosion all over the place. At this point, this is a purely cosmetic issue. Still, a better rack would be appreciated. Even if the bike costs $50 more.

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